SalesForce Wants To Give Everyone Their Own Personal Data Scientist

SalesForce Wants To Give Everyone Their Own Personal Data Scientist

An executive recently told me that everyone has an opinion, but data wins the argument. If that’s true, non-technical people might be winning a lot of arguments in the near future, because Salesforce just released a beta version of Einstein Copilot for Tableau, an AI assistant that the company says will help “make everyone a data expert.”

Or, essentially, provide their own personal data scientist.

“Every employee, in every function, must develop fundamental data skills to be successful in the modern enterprise,” Tableau CEO Ryan Aytay said in a statement. “Einstein Copilot for Tableau streamlines that skill development, helping anyone become experts at understanding data, and enables everyone in the business to surface insights more quickly with trusted AI.”

Copilot, not to be confused with Microsoft Copilot (“your everyday AI companion”), will help in a number of ways:

  • suggesting relevant questions for your dataset
  • answering specific questions
  • extracting needed pieces of data from larger datasets
  • building charts to visualize the data insights it extracts
  • remembering previous questions for context so you can dig deeper

Essentially, this is a natural-language interface to large and complex datasets, driven by the same kind of large language model (LLM) technology that powers ChatGPT. That opens the door for potentially millions of people who don’t have data analysts or scientists on hand to quickly and easily get data-driven answers to business questions, even if they don’t completely know what to look for.

Salesforce has been working on embedding AI into the enterprise for years. Its AI research team dates back to 2014, and it has over 300 AI patents. The company’s CEO of AI Clara Shih told me last year that we’re witnessing a pivotal moment right now: “a step function in human potential.” At the time the company has announced Copilot and overall CEO Marc Benioff specifically referenced human-level AI and beyond as company goals. As of a year ago Salesforce AI was making a trillion predictions a week.

The overall goal is the “AI-first company,” a company that doesn’t so much have a technology foundation as an intelligence framework that activates AI in pretty much every company function from support to sales to marketing to product development and more.

Ultimately, this Copilot beta is a baby step in that direction, but one that should make jobs easier and tasks faster, enabling people to do more and better work.

AI engines built on LLMs however tend to have hallucinations and make mistakes, since they don’t actually understand what they’re doing. That’s something I’ve witnessed firsthand multiple times with OpenAI’s GPT-4. Salesforce has built a trust and safety layer into their technology to minimize this possibility, they say.

I can only imagine the power of having a data scientist in my pocket to help me answer any data-related questions I might have, but it would certainly be transformative to the kind of work I do and the quality of the output I could achieve. If and when this technology ships with near-100% reliability, it will be a game-changer.

Copilot in Tableau is available in limited beta right now, but Salesforce expects to make it widely available by this summer.

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